An tEach Uisce - The Water Horse


le Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill

Ar dtúis ba ina cuid taibhrí amháin
a thagadh sé chun luí léi.

1. Ansan lá
go raibh sí in ainm is a bheith ag aoireacht ba
i gCuaisín na gCaorach, (bhí sí ag léamh
The Old Curiosity Shop le Charles Dickens
is gan aon chuimhneamh aici ar bha ná a leithéid)
cad a chonaic sí ach na muca mara ina scuaine
amuigh sa chuan. Do gheit a croí:
is ann a cheap sí gurb iad na beithígh go léir aici féin
a bhí tar éis titim le haill go hobann isteach sa tsruth.
Cheap sí go bhfaigheadh sí leathmharú sa bhaile dá bharr
is do léim suas le teann líonrith ague uamhain
sarar thuig sí cad a bhí suas.
B’shin é an chéad uair a thaibhsigh sé chúichi ar an láthair.

translation by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin

At first it was only in her dreams
That he came and lay with her.

On the day
She was supposed to be minding the cows
In Sheep Cove (she was reading Dickens,
The Old Curiosity Shop,
And cows were the last thing on her mind)
She saw the porpoises flocking out in the bay.
Her heart almost stopped.
She thought they were her cows, all of them
Fallen at once from the cliff to the water.
She thought she’d get a hammering at home
And she had jumped up in her agitation
Before she saw what the bodies were.
That was the first time he appeared to her there.

2. Ina dhiaidh sin
tháinig sé arís is arís chúichi.
Ar dtúis b’ait léi an t-éadach aisteach a bhí air:
an lúireach, na loirgneáin cnámh éisc, is an cafarr,
na lámhainní fada déanta de chraiceann bradán is scadán.
Ní raibh aon oidhre eile air, dar léi, d’fhéadfá a rá,
ach carachtar neamhdhaonna éigin ó Bh-scannán —
‘An Créatúir ón Lagún Gorm’ nó fiú King Kong.
Ach nuair a bhain sé do an clogad a bhí ar a cheann
is chraith a mhoing bhreá ruainní anuas ar a ghualainn
chonaic sí go soiléir ainsin gurbh fhear óg a bhí ann.

And after that
He came to her again and again.
At first his clothing seemed so strange to her:
The breastplate, the fishbone greaves and the casque,
The long gloves made from the skin of eels,
His whole style recalling
The sub-human creatures from B movies:
The Creature from Black Lagoon, or an Irish cousin of King Kong.
But when he took the helmet from his head
And his fine horse’s mane loosened on his shoulders
She saw clearly that he was a young man.
3. Ansan tháinig lá
gur chuir sé a cheann ina hucht.
Bhí na míolta móra ag búirthíl thíos fúthu faoi loch
is na muca mara ina dtáinte gléigeala mórthimpeall.
(Sa tráthóna thiar
do chonaic daoine a bhí ar an gcnoc le ba iad.)
Is i dteanga éigin iasachta a thuig sí
cé nárbh fhéidir léi na focail a dhéanamh amach i gceart,
d’iarr sé uirthi a cheann a ghlanadh
is na míola a bhí ag crá an chinn air a chnagadh
lena hingne fada.

Then came the day
He laid his head on her breast.
The sea-creatures were hooting below them on the water
And the porpoises in shining troops around them.
(Later in the evening
They were seen by people out after cows on the mountain.)
And in a foreign tongue she understood
Though she could not properly make out the words,
He asked her to comb his hair
And crush with her long nails
The creatures that were pestering his head.
4. Do dhein sí amhlaidh.
Bhí sí ag portaireacht go bog faoina hanáil
is í á bhréagadh nuair a baineadh aisti an phreab
is gheit a croí uirthi; bhí dúlamán is duileascar cloch
ag fás i measc rútaí na gruaige aige.
Thuig sí láithreach cad a bhí suas
is nár mhaith an earra é. Ansan
nuair a bhraith sí barraí na gcluas aige thuig sí leis
nach ar Labhraidh Lorc amháin sa scéal
a bhí na cluasa capaill.

She did what he asked.
She was humming softly under her breath
Soothing him, when she got the fright
That stopped her heart again: seaweed and rock dillish
Were growing among the roots of his hair.
She guessed at once what was going on
And that it was bad news. Then
When she felt the tips of his ears she knew
That not only Labhraidh Loric in the old story
Had ears like a horse’s ears.
5. Cé gur bhrúcht brat fuarallais trína craiceann amach
do bhain sí míotóg amháin nó dhó nó trí
as a cromán is ní dúirt sí faic.
Lean sí uirthi ar feadh an ama ag cíoradh a chinn,
ag crónán is ag portaireacht,
ag gabháilt de shuantraithe is de ghiotaí beaga amhrán,
á bhréagadh is á mhealladh de shíor chun suain.
Ansan nuair a bhraith sí faid osnaíle
ag teacht ina anáil,
do scaoil sí snaidhmeanna a haprúin
go cúramach is go mear

Yet although the cold sweat was running down her skin
She gave herself a pinch in the thigh
Or two or three, and said nothing.
She went on combing his hair the whole time
Humming and murmuring
Lullabies and scraps of songs
To soothe him and beguile him into sleep
And then when she heard his breathing
Changing to the sighs of a sleeper
She undid the strings of her apron
Gently and quickly

6. is thug dos na bonnaibh é
Rith sí ins na tréinte tríd an bhfaill
go tigh a muintire. Ar dtúis
is slaod gibirise amháin i dtaobh rútaí feamnaí
is cluasa capaill a d’eascair as a béal. Ar deireadh
nuair a tuigeadh le deacaireacht agus faoi dheoidh
do lucht an tí cad a bhí á rá aici, d’aithníodar láithreach
is ar an bpointe boise gurb é an t-each uisce é.
D’éiríodar airm is a n-éide catha,
is ritheadar amach ina mbuíon armtha
ar tí a mharaithe.

And she ran for it,
She made it up the cliffs in a flash
To the house of her people. At first,
All they could get from her was a streel of nonsense
About seaweed roots and horse’s ears. At length,
When her people at home had laboured to make out
The meaning of what she was saying, they knew at once
Right on the spot that it was the water horse.
They rose up and put on their clothes,
Their battle-gear and took their weapons.
And out they went as an armed patrol
To find and kill him.

7 Bhí seans léi, a dúirt na héinne, ina dhiaidh san.
Bhí, agus gur dhóbair di — aon bharrthuisle amháin,
aon ghníomh ar bith ceataí is bhí sí ite aige,
scun scan, beo beathúch, cnámha agus uile.
Trí lá i ndiaidh na tubaiste
seans go mbeadh a hae, an dá scámhóig aici is na duáin
le piocadh suas acu ar bharra taoide.
B’fhíor dóibh, do thuig sí san.
Mar sin féin do luigh imeachtaí an lae úd
go trom uirthi.
Do shuigh sí síos ar fhaobhar na faille
lá i ndiaidh lae eile

Afterwards they all said she was lucky.
She was, and it was a near thing; one slip,
One step awry and he’d have swallowed her,
Right down, live and kicking, blood and bones.
Three days after the event
They might have found her liver, a couple of lungs and kidneys
Picked up around the high-tide mark.
That was the sort of beast he was.
It was true for them, she knew it.
And yet she felt the story of that day
Lie heavy on her.
She’d sit there on the cliff edge
Day after day.
8. is í ag cuimhneamh ar loinnir uaithne
na súl bhfiarsceabhach aige a d’fhéach uirthi le fonn
a bhí chomh simplí san is chomh glan, folláin,
ina shlí féin le hampla ocrais;
drithle rithimeach na ngéag donn
is conas a chaolaíodar ina riostaí cúnga
ag rí na láimhe aige

And she thought about the green gleam
In the strange eyes that had looked at her with desire,
That was as simple, clean, clear
In its own way as a hearty hunger;
The rhythmic shining of his brown limbs
And how they narrowed to slim wrists
And the shape of the hands.

.
9. Thar aon ní eile do chuimhnigh sí ar mhatáin
iallaithe a choirp a bhí chomh haiclí
is chomh teann le bogha i bhfearas. An teannas
a bhí ann, mar a bheadh sprionga tochraiste
a bheadh ar tinneall i gcónaí
is réidh faoi bhráid a athscaoilte.


More than all else she remembered the muscular
Weave of his body that was tense
And light as a tightened bow. The spring
Wound up, alert, constantly
Ready to be released again.
Courtesy of Jack & Vivian IrishPage.com 2002
Replay music: Metwater.mid
Ar ais don clár. Poem List

Back to Poems List
Don liosta dánta